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The Doctrine of The Holy Spirit

     In Matthew Chapter 26, before his betrayal and arrest, the Lord took with him Peter, James, and John. The Lord on that fateful night told them, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mat 26:41) Paul in all of his epistles spends a great deal of time talking about the Spirit and the Flesh. Today I would like to analyze the doctrine of the Holy Spirit from Paul’s epistle to the Galatians.
     According to T. Paige, Paul’s concept of the Holy Spirit came from three main sources; (1) The Old Testament, (2) Intertestamental Judaism, and (3) Christian thought. Paul’s Old Testament understanding of the Spirit was God’s presence and power.1 As of note Paul did not have a Hellenistic idea of the Spirit as something being at the beck and call of man. Paul understood that the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit, and because God is One there is only one Spirit in all.2 Paul believed that the Galatians received the Spirit by hearing the gospel message with faith. God is the one who provides the Spirit and works miracles among them. (Gal 3:1-5)
     As stated earlier Paul speaks often in his epistles about the Spirit and the Flesh. John Calvin believed that the believer has two natures; a spiritual nature and a fleshy nature. Even though the Christian has been redeemed, he is helplessly subject to the power of the flesh until the resurrection.3
     There is not sufficient space in this essay to give my personal views on this matter; however, I will say that both the Spirit and the Flesh are present in the believer’s life. Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, you had one nature (the flesh), and therefore were subject to fleshy desires. Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16) Who was Paul talking too? Believers, therefore, believers who walk by the Spirit will not carry out the desires of the flesh. However, a word of warning, never think that you have won dominance over your flesh, and never consider your flesh redeemed. There will always be a war between the Spirit and the flesh until the consummation. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Gal 5:17) If you are in Christ you must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:24) “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25)
     In addition to the Holy Spirit working in the believer’s life against the flesh, the Holy Spirit is also at work in evangelism; convincing those who have heard the gospel to believe (Gal 3:1-3), and giving believers the boldness and wisdom to testify about Jesus.4 Paul understood that Justification, Christ, and the Spirit are always linked, you cannot have one without the other.5
     Paul believed that the greatest outcropping of the Holy Spirit is love (cf. 1 Cor 13), being in the Spirit, or being in Christ expresses itself in fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 list the fruit of the Spirit.6 The reason that one goes out and testifies about Jesus is out of love and obedience towards God in Jesus Christ, and love and concern for one’s neighbor. The reason that a believer bears the burden of his brother, restoring him who is caught in a trespass with gentleness is out of love for his brother. (Gal 6:1-4) To be in the Spirit is to be concerned for what is best for the other even at one’s own expense.
     So brothers and sisters let us walk in the Spirit of Holiness as Christ walked. Let us testify about Jesus Christ, preaching the gospel with boldness and wisdom in this world. Let us walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Let us walk in unity bearing one another’s burdens and praying for one another. Let us do so knowing that the consummation of the Kingdom is coming. Until that day let us worship the Lord together in the Spirit of Christ.

     1 T. Paige, “Holy Spirit” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 404.
     2 T. Paige, “Holy Spirit” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 405.
     3 T. Paige, “Holy Spirit” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 409.
     4 T. Paige, “Holy Spirit” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 409.
     5 T. Paige, “Holy Spirit” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, eds. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1993), 410.
     6 Ibid.

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